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EU Prepares Microsoft Antitrust Probe: Sources

 |  July 3, 2023

EU regulators are preparing to launch an antitrust investigation into Microsoft’s workplace chat and video app, Teams, amid allegations of unfair practices. Microsoft has been accused of leveraging its Office suite to squeeze out smaller competitors, such as Slack.

Microsoft’s efforts to quell the inquiry have failed, with the European Commission preparing a statement of objections outlining the potential competition issues arising from the company’s bundling of Teams with Office 365 in 2017, reported Reuters. Microsoft had already been fined 2.2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) for similar practices in the past decade.

The Commission has been distributing questionnaires to customers and competitors in a bid to gather evidence. A Microsoft spokesperson alleges that the company is “open to pragmatic solutions that address [the Commission’s] concerns and serve customers well”.

Related: Microsoft’s President Meets With EU To Talk AI Regulations

It is believed that Microsoft was considering offering a discounted Office product without the Teams app attached, suggesting that the technology giant was attempting to dodge the looming antitrust investigation. However, the European Commission is reported to have been pushing for a bigger price cut than what Microsoft was willing to make.

The new investigation comes at a time of growing anti-trust concerns over Big Tech companies, and Microsoft will be hoping its proactive measures are enough to spare it from a harsh penalty. A spokesperson for the company said they continue “to engage cooperatively with the Commission in its investigation”.

The revelations highlight the precarious situation Microsoft finds itself in. “EU antitrust regulators are set to initiate an inquiry into Microsoft’s Teams app,” said an insider.

It remains to be seen how the antitrust investigation unfolds, but Microsoft may face fallout of immense proportions if found to have violated EU competition rules.